Park City Treasure deal: ‘iconic’ land or ‘legal extortion?’
October 12, 2018
The sides in the debate about Park City's proposed acquisition of Treasure in a conservation deal on Thursday presented their arguments in front of Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council, covering well-worn issues but offering a rare opportunity to listen to pro and con arguments in a single setting.
The meeting was required under state election law to provide the sides time to outline the arguments during a public meeting as Park City voters prepare to decide a $48 million ballot measure. The $48 million would fund most of the cost of the $64 million acquisition of Treasure as well as a contribution of up to $3 million to an unrelated conservation deal in Thaynes Canyon, known as Snow Ranch Pasture.
If the ballot measure succeeds, Park City would block a major development on the Treasure land overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, holds longstanding development rights on the land and was locked in difficult discussions about a project at the time the conservation agreement was reached.
Cindy Matsumoto, a former City Councilor, presented on behalf of the supporters while Stephen Streamer, who lives in Park Meadows, represented the opposition as he spoke. Matsumoto and Streamer are the two figures who also drafted written arguments published in official election materials.
Neither of them made dramatic new statements about the Treasure deal, but they addressed a range of issues as they pressed their arguments. Some of the comments on Thursday were similar to those made in the written arguments.
Matsumoto described Park City's longtime efforts to acquire land for conservation purposes and called the Treasure land and Snow Ranch Pasture "iconic pieces of property." She said acquiring land benefits all Parkites and helps keeps people in Park City. Matsumoto noted the McPolin Farm, an early conservation acquisition by Park City, provides an entryway to the community.
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Matsumoto said the tax increase related to a successful ballot measure would be temporary while development would strain the community. There would be years of construction and long-term traffic impacts, Matsumoto said.
"We have one chance," Matsumoto said, adding, "Let's not mess this up."
Streamer argued nearly all the Treasure land would remain undeveloped if the ballot measure fails and a project proceeds. He said the deal essentially involves 10 acres since other parts of the land are already set aside from development. Under his calculations, including interest payments and fees related to the issuance of the bonds, City Hall would pay $80 million. Streamer labeled the situation "legal extortion."
Streamer claimed supporters are inflating the actual size of Treasure and said there is a possibility the Park City School District will pursue a ballot measure for improvements.
"I'd rather pay for education," he said.
The comments by Matsumoto and Streamer highlighted a meeting that also featured broader testimony from other supporters of the ballot measure. None of the speakers other than Streamer provided comments in opposition.
Some of the other speakers are members of the core opposition to the Treasure development proposal. The comments included John Stafsholt saying vacation homeowners and owners of commercial properties will pay most of the cost of the acquisition and Kyra Parkhurst contending a Treasure development would "demolish that mountain."